Thursday, 13 April 2006

English church press reports on ECUSA

The church newspapers publish a day early this week, because of Good Friday. So today we have:

Church Times ECUSA commission backtracks on gays and the resolutions are republished here.

Church of England Newspaper ECUSA to slow liberal agenda by George Conger.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 13 April 2006 at 12:00pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | ECUSA
Comments

"Backtrack"? Did they read the resolutions? It seems to me that the resolutions do nothing of the sort. Instead they offer language that is cautious but allows quite a variety of interpretations depending on what the reader *wants* to read.

The passage "extreme caution" can be legitimately interpreted: "be very careful but go ahead with it if you must" OR "under no circumstances". Same with the private-not-public-care. It could be interpred either as: "No SSU period" OR "Services already authorized are fine as long as it doesn't have a whole-community nature about it."

These resolutions are too open, I fear, for the Communion to be of one mind on them. That is, I can easily see ++Williams agreeing that they are within the bounds of Windsor but an ++Akinola rejecting them out of hand as more American trickery. And, in a way, they'd *both* be right...

Posted by: Derek on Thursday, 13 April 2006 at 3:33pm BST

Might I point out, in relation to the "public/private" language, that according to the parochial report forms and other record-keeping paraphernalia of the Episcopal Church (Register of Church Services) ALL marriages are considered "private services" unless performed as part of a regularly scheduled liturgy (which I dare say is uncommon). This is so because, as the church teaches, even though the liturgy may take place in a "public" forum, the rite itself is "private" in that the ministers of the rite (the couple) are the sole participants, all others being "witnesses" and "supporters."
There is, then, clearly a difference between a "private" and a "clandestine" service. So this language will be subject to broad interpretation.

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Thursday, 13 April 2006 at 6:11pm BST

Dr. Ian Douglas is not the Bishop of Mass. but a professor at EDS.

[SS notes: this is a reference to the Church Times article which is in error on this point.]

Posted by: Rev. Kurt Huber on Thursday, 13 April 2006 at 6:52pm BST

Derek, I think that's accurate: the resolutions to allow some interpretation. I don't think resolutions that would satisfy the separationist folks such as Akinola would be likely to come to General Convention at all. Some might be proposed by individual deputies or dioceses, but I would be shocked were they to pass. I doubt that any action that Convention might actually take would satisfy them.

Don't underestimate the fact that Bishop Robinson's election was confirmed by majorities of more than 60% both among bishops and among clergy and lay deputies. Since our bishops and our deputations are elected in diocesan conventions (not appointed; some other parts of the Communion seem to have a hard time grasping that); and since the lay delegates to diocesan conventions are elected, in fact General Convention probably reflects better the majority of Episcopalians than separationists would want to admit. Don't underestimate that rites of the Episcopal Church can only be approved - and have not been approved - by General Convention; and rites to bless gay couples, even when sponsored by dioceses, can never be characterized as normative.

Others have suggested that the value of inviting siblings from other parts of the Communion to sit in on our committees, etc., would be to make more clear how we reach decisions, and how important it is to hear how the Spirit is speaking to all our communicants, lay and ordained, straight and gay, and of all variety of cultures and races. Despite allegations to the contrary, this is not a church that has been hijecked by a militant minority. I think the next General Covention will demonstrate that once again.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Thursday, 13 April 2006 at 7:10pm BST

If TEC's position is adequate according to Archbishop Williams and the other moderates in the communion, then the pressure gets turned around to the conservatives. If Archbishop Akinola is unwilling to go along with the majority, he is the one the moderates will reject rather than TEC.

Jon

Posted by: Jon on Thursday, 13 April 2006 at 9:04pm BST

It is an attempt to put the brakes on (at least temporarily) and restore the bonds of fellowship, which is what Windsor asks for. The open questions are (1) whether the House of Delegates goes along with the bishops, or decides to push forward, and (2) whether either Akinola & Co. or the leavers within ECUSA are satisfied with something that falls short of their demands.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Friday, 14 April 2006 at 1:44am BST

Jon:

Your post left me scratching my head. Who are these "moderates"? By "moderate" I'm assuming you mean someone who's in between the two extreme positions.

As far as I can tell the disputes at issue are yes/no issues. So, I have a hard time envisioning an intermediate position. Are you indicating a group that doesn't agree with ECUSA's positions, but not strongly enough to break communion over the issue? And, if so, what provinces are you including here?

Steven

Posted by: steven on Friday, 14 April 2006 at 5:36pm BST

Steven,
Japan and South Africa have said (officially IIRC) exactly what Jon is talking about: they are not happy about the same-sex issue, but do not feel it necessary to sever the communion over it. That is well described, I think, as a moderate position.
Tobias
Blessed Holy Saturday and a glorious Easter to all...

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Friday, 14 April 2006 at 10:42pm BST

Tobias:

Thank you for your wishes for a glorious Easter and may you and all others reading likewise be blessed during this most blessed time.

Also, thanks for your clarification. However, to follow up on my question: Jon implies a "moderate" majority who will turn on Akinola and the conservatives. The COE, Japan and South Africa do not make a "moderate" majority of the communion. In fact, I thought the majority of the communion (both in terms of number of provinces and number of worshipers) was with the conservatives. This is the source of some of my confusion. Three provinces do not a "moderate" majority make, even if one of them is the COE.

God bless to all.

Steven

Posted by: steven on Saturday, 15 April 2006 at 12:00am BST

At the last meeting of the ACC who voted against asking TEC and Canada to stay away from the ACC until after Lambeth 2008? That is where I would start looking for names, and the votes there are some of the primary reasons I think there are enough moderates to swing things in favor of either side. IIRC Scotland and Wales are more liberal than moderate, but Brazil might perhaps be included in the list of moderates (as opposed to liberals) along with Ireland, Sudan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, the Philippines, in addition to the churches Tobias listed.

Jon

Posted by: Jon on Saturday, 15 April 2006 at 1:49pm BST

Thank you, Jon. I didn't mention the more "liberal" provinces because I thought Steven's question was specifically about the "moderates"; I think your list shows the weight of support or at the least willingness to tolerate that exists out there. (I can think of a few others who could be added: the Caribbean, for example; and my sources inform me that Abp Gomez aside, the West Indies is not so firmly in the Global South as some might think. There are also a few other African Provinces that will weigh this matter closely before parting ways with the rest of the Communion.)

The "hard-line" right does not in fact speak for the majority of provinces of the Anglican Communion. The whole point of the Windsor Report was to preserve "the highest degree of communion," and many are willing to do what they can to accomplish that end.

As far as the ACC meeting goes, it seems likely, that had TEC and Canada voted instead of abstaining, the ballot could well have gone against the Primates. The Women of the AC have recently also spoken out on this matter.
Blessed Pascha,
Tobias

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Saturday, 15 April 2006 at 3:37pm BST

Hmmm. Thanks Jon and Tobias. An interesting analysis. It will be interesting indeed to see how things shake out when push comes to shove.

But, enough about unpleasant topics. Tomorrow we say: He is risen indeed!

Steven

Posted by: steven on Saturday, 15 April 2006 at 5:07pm BST
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